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Adjusting Crowns aka Stoppers


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
I heard a flautist the other day going on about adjusting the crown of her flute. At least I think that is what she was talking about. She continues to have problems with the intonation of the upper octaves especially at high volume. Seems to me this would be better addressed by embouchure adjustments, but not being a very savvy flautist I held my tongue. What does adjusting the stopper or crown of a flute do for a player?


Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
Yes and no. Although a flautist can vary intonation using the embouchure (although a lot less in the third octave than in the lower octaves), the correct placement of the stopper is critical to getting the harmonics in line, which in turn is very important for the intonational tendencies of the third octave.

I doubt you want to know the precise acoustics, but without that little bit of "dead" space above the embouchure hole the third octave would be about 25% sharp, as it is on vertically blown flutes like the shakuhachi and quena (and would be on the recorder if you could play a third octave).

To bring the harmonics into line, the distance from the center of the embouchure hole to the stopper should be the inner diameter of the body tube of the flute. If it is shorter the third octave will tend to be sharp, and flat if it is longer.

Different embouchures actually require slight adjustments to this distance based on the length of the airjet (player's lips to embouchure-hole edge), and so there is some adjustment room here for players' intonational tendencies as well, but it shouldn't stray too far from the ideal.

It is a bit like a sax player who "bites up" on the mpc, raising the pitch: pulling the mpc off the cork will lower the pitch, but at the price of screwing up the overall intonation of the horn.



Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
If you have ever looked at the factory cleaning rod (at least if one is supplied) it tends to have a line etched on it . If you push this up the headjoint it stops at the cork (aka stopper), the line should be in the middle of the embouchure hole - the supposed optimal location.

When one takes out the cork (or other material) make sure to push it out the larger end (part that goes into the body). As normally the headjoint is slightly conical.